It’s almost Daylight Saving Time! While you may remember to set your clocks back, you may overlook another important household task. When it comes to safety in your home, your fire alarm may rank as the first on the list. The US Fire Administration suggests that you test your smoke detectors regularly to ensure your smoke detector will work properly to alert you with enough time to evacuate. Most smoke detectors are battery powered; however, even hardwired detectors usually incorporate back-up batteries in case of electrical failure. Whether your alarms are hardwired or exclusively use batteries, both kinds of detectors require battery replacement. Factors such as frequently setting off your detector while cooking; detectors giving off false alarms; or your detector emitting short beeps may wear out the battery life of your alarm faster. Because of short battery life, batteries should be replaced at least twice a year. Daylight Saving Time is a great way to help you remember to keep up with changing the batteries – just remember to change them when you set back your clocks in the fall, and again when you set you clock forward in the spring. Generally, most smoke detectors may be tested by following the tips below, but you should review your smoke detector’s user manual for information on changing the batteries and directions on how to test your specific smoke detector.

  1. Alert any family members or people in the home that you are testing the smoke detector so they are aware and will not be frightened.
  2. Have a family member stand at the farthest point in the house from the alarm to ensure that the alarm signal can be heard from all areas in the house. You should add additional detectors in areas of the house where the alarm sound is weak or muffled.
  3. To test the detector, press and hold the button on the body of the detector. It may take a few seconds to begin, but a loud piercing alarm should sound through the whole house. If the sound is weak you should replace the batteries immediately, regardless if they have been recently replaced. You should also inspect the body of the detector to ensure that no parts are defective or broken.
  4. Smoke detectors regularly have a life span of ten years before they should be replaced. Even if your detector is still testing correctly and working fine, the entire alarm should be replaced after ten years.

Just thinking your detectors are working fine can be a dangerous assumption. Taking a few minutes to check them can save your life in a dire situation. Just remember – when you change your clocks, change the batteries in your smoke detectors!

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